The Mobile Darkroom: printing without negatives and enlarger

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97 thoughts on “The Mobile Darkroom: printing without negatives and enlarger

  1. You're truly fantastic! I'm glad I found your channel. Looking forward to seeing your results in the next video.
    My boring two cents: take care of your health and pay attention to proper ventilation (says the woman who mixes her color chemicals without gloves…) so you don't get lost in the fog (…there's good fog and there's bad fog ;). Also, if you want to save chemicals for the sake of flexibility while traveling developer and fixer alone will do the job, you can stop your prints with water only, no stop bath necessary. But you probably know that already 🏔️

  2. Have you thought about putting your negative between your phone and bronica and use the phone just as a light source? That could work and you can use traditional dodging and burning.

  3. You can try to change the color of the background to purple or yellow like the grade filters.
    You can use the level of the phone to check that it is perpendicular.

  4. Please take a look on Jakub Kotrč
    `s youtube cannel. He developed a paper exposer app.

  5. Fantastic Idea! Really inspirational! You are to be congratulated, really great answer to your lack of a darkroom and all the necessary equipment. All the best to you with this project. I think the idea you have to construct a simple print easel to hold the paper flat will help to provide sharper prints. Looking forward to seeing how this progresses. All the best to you!

  6. What a great idea to use a phone and a medium format camera as an enlarger. Now that's thinking outside the box. Very interesting video. Take care of yourself and make a few more. Cheers from Canada.

  7. Check this out: He’s come up with a similar idea and has developed an app. And it features the capability to do split-grade printing (with any color of light you can dial in via your iPhone). It’s really nice … I’m using it to make 5×7 contact prints. But it was designed to use as a light source for 35mm and medium-format cameras.

  8. Found your Instagram account by chance. I've been getting back into photography, something I've enjoyed for years and years. Stuff like this really gets me excited to try more things. Haven't made a proper print in the longest time. Keep up the good work!

    Edit: for focusing and holding the phone, a figure you can have someone make a 3d model of a holder that could have a micro adjustment built in. Same distance/position each time.

  9. Brilliant.
    Just tried my iPhone XR on my RB67 and it's a perfect fit. The enlarger was the one thing preventing me printing at home (we have no storage) but this is definitely within the realms of possibility…
    Any suggestions for us non-computer programmers to keep a dark screen?

  10. I think this is a fantastic idea. It was awesome to hear about all of the steps that brought you to this final revelation. I am excited to see the next video that shows off a more refined process, and I really hope that others here are able to give you some ideas on how to improve the process, but man…you've done incredible work on this so far! It's great to see someone so excited! 🙂

  11. Brilliant! But I urge you to try the traditional way. There is nothing like it. Without the pixels the prints are SO smooth!

  12. This is amazing! If you develop the app and put it out there, I would gladly pay to use it. Just got a Bronica ETRSi and I think it would be so fun to try out. It also makes me think that there's a possibility to make a cardboard or wood light box to use on real film while using the camera for film printing. Much cheaper for those with medium format film cameras.

    I'm a traveling nurse, getting into film right now. Having camera gear is so difficult to carry around. Something like this is really promising. Plus, I don't have a house with spare rooms. This could all be done even in a studio apartment

  13. @aows I am so excited by your process and approach, keep doing such awesome work and development. A couple of years ago a company came out with a project and was seeking funding on indiegogo to which never was fulfilled at least to the backers. They had an app similar to what you were describing for the mobile darkroom, it's not in the apps store anymore and not supported by ios 12 I was able to reinstalled the app on an older version iPad. Here is a link to the article and video hope it helps.
    Again, awesome work!

  14. I have used my Android phone with snapseed in my enlarger to print images captured on slide film (converting a positive image to a negative). One thing that might help is to make sure the screen resolution of your phone is set to the highest quality, with various power saving settings on the phone you sometimes end up with the phone not using it's highest resolution. Your results are great, silver gelatin is much more fun than inkjet 🙂

  15. Not sure why …
    other then if you can do it or not….
    I guess your phone is your light meter anyway so I’m not sure why I wasn’t offended earlier in previous videos ….

  16. Someday …. do yourself a favour and put a negative in an enlarger and enjoy focusing actual film … why are you shooting film anyway …?

  17. Do you have a screen protector on? I'm wondering if that might rob you of some sharpness. Nice sick inventing. I like the direction you are heading with this.

  18. Couldn't you do this more directly with a digital projector, of the kind used to project movies etc? It seems to me that the iPhone screen is the weak link here.

  19. Awesome! Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to see more.

    There is an app for iOS called Paper Exposer that does the same thing but with film negatives. I have been wanting to try this since I too have minimal space and don’t have access to an enlarger.

    Paper Exposer by Jakub Kotrc

  20. Hey! I have been following you for some time now, you have a great channel and are a very talented photographer. You actually convinced me to buy myself a bronica a few months ago. 😀 Anyway, that's a very nice setup you have here. You should try to use a "used" sheet of paper to get your focus right and replace it with the actual sheet you want to print once the focus is good. Also watch out for the vigneting that you have on the top right corner of your prints. Why don't you put a negative holder inbetween your iphone and the bronica so that you don't even need to scan tour negatives? You could just use your iphone as a light source (you can tune the color for different grade to play with the contrast of your images). This would remove the possibily of seeing the pixels from your screen for large prints. You should also add a level onto your bronica to make sure you are perfectly flat. Good luck with your printing!

  21. Good on you. I hope (with a little bit more tinkering) you iron out some of these initial problems. That’s definitely got me thinking about ways I could start printing some of my larger format stuff. Cheers!

  22. In any case, I'd be interested to follow this project. But you could adapt an old back as suggested to get better quality prints from negative, and use your iPhone for digital. You would only have 1 extra back in your box with darkroom equipment.

  23. Hi Adrian! It's a good idea, there is even app for iOS from Berlin-based (I believe) film photographer with exposure timer etc. for using through the camera, as you did. But still I suggest you at least to try using true enlarger – it's just much better suited thing for such a creativity. Not sure about Spain, but I visited one store in Porto, Portugal and there were lots of good enlargers priced 70-100 EUR or smth near. Anyway, great to see you evolving in analog!
    P.S. I found the app – check out Paper Exposer app for iOS from Jakub Kotrc, it even has split-grading filter approach inside.

  24. stunning, that's such a good idea ! you are one hell of a creative guy. it's always a pleasure to watch your videos.

  25. Cool idea; but I'm wondering if you couldn't just put the paper on top of an ipad….would it really be out of focus enough to see the difference? I might have to repeat your experiment. 🙂 I love your concept though.
    Also: my first laugh of the day was from your 'notification negative'. Funny.

  26. That could really work even with a 35mm camera, a real negative and the iPad/iPhone as a simple light source niiice! Also if you want a simple way of building an “app” like that take a look at the Shortcuts app from apple ! Great video!

  27. Hi Adrian, I just watched this video and think it looks really interesting. Although I still shoot a lot of film, it's quite a few years since I was in a traditional darkroom. Nevertheless, I have a few suggestions. Firstly, if you can get an easel to hold the paper, onto which you are printing, it will help keep it flat. Secondly, a copying stand might be a more practical, sturdier and more consistent way to keep the camera / iPhone at the right distance from the paper / easel. Thirdly, instead of the cardboard tube, would adapting a Bronica (or other brand) bellows lens hood shade allow you to vary the distance between the phone and the camera? If so, you could vary the height and adjust focus to crop the image to suit the size of the paper. Fourthly, you may be able to adjust the exposure by using a decent quality neutral density filter (not a graduated one, unless that might help "dodge" a bright sky, etc) – either on the lens or immediately below the iPhone. This might allow, you to fine-tune the combination of negative and grade of paper. I hope these ideas are of some benefit and that you manage to produce the portable set up you need. Very best wishes.

  28. Hi! I've got an idea for you! I know there have been many similar to mine, but stick with me for a while! When you use phone screen to get picture – you are limited by tonality and resolution of iphone which is not so perfect. When you use negative – you lack that creativity lightroom gives you. Why not combine both? How about this idea: expose as you did with your iphone, but put your negative under it. In order to get picture like in lightroom – image on your phone should be modified – actually representing your adjustments. Burn and dodge is just different levels of exposure which can be all fixed in one picture on the screen of your phone. You can do it as separate layer in photoshop when you edit new negative scan. Or you can play with ps tools to get difference between end result you already achieved in your previous work and raw negative. Hope this does not sound too complicated. I believe you are on the right way unless you are not inventing just another enlarger. That would be a waste of time. Haha

  29. Great video. I really enjoy learning about your printing process. Printing is something I've never done but I find it fascinating. Videos like this really make me feel like I could do it too one day. I'm looking forward to seeing your process evolve.

  30. Brilliant, I’m a darkroom photographer. Maybe add some multi grade contrast filters. They are inexpensive used. Maybe a 2,5. This is inspiring. Let me know if that helps. Thx

  31. What a great idea. Imagine having an app where you can not only set the exposure time, but even dodge & burn areas with your finger ahead of time?

  32. Yes great! A lot of what I wanted to say was already in the comments, so I won't repeat the very good advise about using a grain focuser (in your case a pixel focuser hahaha), using the negative. What wasn't in the comments :
    – The app existed, was called enfojer. You snap your fingers, it goes dark, snap again, it exposes, it takes any picture and makes a negative and you can tweak contrast and exposure directly. The company (that proposed a dedicated mini enlarger) went bankrupt though.
    – The fumes happen when you use an acid stop that gets contaminated with developer. In my case I solved the problem separating the fixer in another doom
    – The contact print blur thing gets me depressed… I wanted to propose workshops to young people using exactly that 🙁
    – Is the focus field of your Bronica lens flat enough for the paper? Though a macro lens would solve the problem
    – Is the contrast of the iPhone screen enough? Is the definition enough for 8×10?
    Bravo for the project and your inventiveness 🙂

  33. Ive never used bronica lenses, but i would say that if you make bigger enlargements you are going to struggle with keeping the focal plane flat, as well as seeing pixels. Great results with the small prints though!

  34. Awesome ! I was thinking about digital contact printing just today.

    You and the folks of the comment section have awesome ideas !

  35. I've done the phone through enlarger. For proper focus you'll need a traditional grain focuser and instead of the grain you'll focus on the pixels.
    You'll be sharp then.
    Cool idea!

  36. I've been putting my phone in enlargers for a while. I use the negative gray scale display setting and a 1/2 gel filter. The highlights and shadows were still blowing out, so I calibrated a Photoshop curve using Chart Throb. I have to email the pictures to myself, from my phone to computer and back again after applying the curve. Works perfectly.

  37. Excellent wondered if contact printing from a screen would work. Wonder if your app was adjustable to make the light adjustable for blue and green levels. You could control contrast of multi grade paper.

  38. I have been in a darkroom since 1973..the best tip I have, use a grain focuser..dont trust your naked eye..see attached

  39. This is super clever! You may have convinced me to pick up a Bronica to try it out. I would suggest using a Bluetooth keyboard or something similar to trigger when the app displays the image. Then you wouldn’t have to rush to get the paper in place. You could also add a way to increase or decrease the exposure time using the keyboard as well, maybe with audio feedback to tell you the current setting.

  40. I scanned the comments quickly, but maybe someone also made the same suggestion… Have you thought about just using a grain focuser? Just like we use in a traditional darkroom? I can't see why that wouldn't work. This looks like a fun project! Good luck!

  41. This is the sort of thing that would really get me into the darkroom. Shame all my rooms have windows in! My bathroom has a skylight and it would be a bit odd if I covered it up. Plus annoying that I would have to cover and uncover it. Like others have said, would be great if you could release this app. Make an Android version of it as well?

  42. If the whole point is to make a physical print on silver hylide then you pretty much have it.

    I use a film scanner I bought off ebay, I develope my negatives and edit them later. I can't say it's the best way but it's a better way than what you are doing. You have to pay for developing chemicals and paper, plus the image wouldn't be as nice as it could be. If you scan then you can use your negatives and directly import it with no paper needed, plus you still have the negatives if you get a better scanner in the future.

  43. Great work. I'm confused though. When the image is in focus, how come you dont see the pixels in your enlargement?

  44. Hahaha 😂 the message pop up was too funny 👌🏻i really like your way of experimenting and tghe succes you have 👍🏻 love your videos!

  45. Follow up question(s) here: Do you lock the mirror up, and use the T mode on the lens to lock the shutter open after actuating the shutter? If so, how do you continue using a roll of film in a back without wasting a frame? I think I managed to waste a frame after trying out the project setup as you described. I may have messed something up there, but it seemed like the camera was wound and ready to fire as it was.

  46. Any chance you’d consider putting your app in the AppStore? I saw your video and immediately went to download the app but only found Enfojer, but it’s not compatible with the latest iOS 😢. I’m sure there’s others who’d be interested and would gladly pay a dollar or two for it!

  47. FYI – new Paper Exposer app turns your phone into an enlarger light source – to use your camera as an enlarger – with film in it.

  48. Nice work! Since you're probably using multigrade paper, you could also experiment with applying color to your negative image. For example more blue light in the shadows and green in the highlights will increase shadow contrast and decrease highlight contrast. This could be applied using a gradient map (photoshop) or with toning controls.

  49. Wonderful .Less is more. Use what you have creatively . Maybe if you set phone screen to display then use bulb mode and cable release .

  50. There is an scene in the movie Anthropoid (about the killing of the Reichprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, Heydrich by czechoslovak commandos), were they use a Rolleiflex Old Standard to recon some locations. And then in a dark room, they have no enlarger, so they put the negative film again in the Rolleiflex (without closing the back) and shine a lamp through it, using the camera as an enlarger. It's cool!

  51. Very creative process…! Get yourself an easel + a grain focuser, to stand on it. (Its a focusing loupe for the darkroom.)

  52. This is great. Wow, I was just thinking about doing something like this for color prints or even projecting a positive image onto a tintype or a negative image onto a cyanotype. For color I believe you mainly have to filter your negative in the cyan, magenta and yellow range on color photo development paper. It is funny that this digital to analogue technique is catching so much traction. Maybe make a company that uses a small OLED back mounted to a billow with a simple lens and compete against the Poloroid Lab which produces far less quality prints at an outrageously expensive price.

  53. I did something similar a number of years ago.
    Like you it got me started in the darkroom. In the end it was limited by the pixels on the ipad. For an iphone 11 pro at 458 ppi that would get you to 458 x 2.25iches=1030 pixels a side on the image. At 300 ppi print resolution that says 3×3 inch image. I always considered it to be a very small print technique as a result. I love the video.

  54. Man, to check the focus you only need a twenty euro focus finder, which is basically a loupe that set flat in the surface where you are going to make the print. Here you have one. Is kind of necessary, but really easy to work with.

  55. could you provide us the app you built ? (even just the source code would be nice :D). Great work. Cheers from Brazil.

  56. That's a genius way of having a darkroom but not admitting it to yourself. TBH If you go to all the trouble you have to black out the room, prep chemicals etc an enlarger is not that much more trouble although granted you are then stuck with analogue only. That said don't take this the wrong way I think you are brilliant for what you have achieved and I offer a possible assist to your focusing issue, back when I used to print my own we used to have a bit of kit called a grain focuser or focus finder that you put under the enlarger and it allows you to accurately focus the negative using the grain. They are about £30.00 to buy and might allow you to accurately focus your digital negative. You do the focus before putting the paper in and the finder is set to allow for the thickness of the paper.

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